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UPR of Morocco – MRG’s contribution

31 March 2022

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) calls on UN member states to use the opportunity of the 4th Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Morocco, scheduled for November 2022, to address the situation of persons belonging to ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and of indigenous peoples in the country.

Morocco is a multi-ethnic and multicultural society. The Preamble of its 2011 Constitution proclaims the Kingdom’s commitment “to preserve, in its plenitude and its diversity, its one and indivisible national identity”. This new Constitution admittedly marked a significant advancement in the state’s commitment to protect and promote human rights. However, despite a number of legislative reforms undertaken since 2011 to strengthen Morocco’s institutional and legal human rights frameworks, racial and religious discrimination continues to pervade the country’s social fabric, particularly targeting persons belonging to minorities, namely the indigenous Amazigh, Sahrawis, Black Moroccans and Black sub-Saharan African migrants and refugees.

Our submission addresses specific human rights violations experienced by some of these groups in relation to the right to equality and non-discrimination; right to freedom of religion or belief; and the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. The submission also includes MRG’s recommendations as to how reviewing states should encourage the government of Morocco to address these issues in order to combat and eliminate all forms of racial and religious discrimination.

MRG urges States to recommend to Morocco to:

  1. Intensify efforts to implement the provisions of organic law 26-16 without delays, notably by ensuring that necessary funding is allocated through the Yearly State Budget (‘Loi de Finances’) for the training and hiring of a sufficient number of Tamazight teachers to guarantee the teaching in Tamazight to all primary school pupils, as well as to secondary and university students. Pending effective application of the law’s provisions, take interim measures to prevent and mitigate all forms of linguistic and cultural discrimination of Amazigh in all spheres.
  2. Revise law 04-20 to include Tamazight in its Tifinagh characters on the Electronic National Identity Card as warranted by the official status of Tamazight.
  3. Repeal all legislation that permit expropriation and exploitation of Amazigh lands, territories and natural resources, and constitutionally recognise and protect the inalienable rights of the Amazigh to their ancestral lands, territories and natural resources, including the right to natural resources of the soil and subsoil.
  4. Take administrative and legislative measures to ensure the effective consultation and participation of the Amazigh peoples, through their own representative institutions, at all levels of decision-making in all areas that affect them, including land, territories and natural resources, upholding the principle of free, prior and informed consent.
  5. Restitute confiscated lands or, when this is not possible, agree on just, fair and equitable (land or monetary) compensation for the prejudice caused.
  6. Adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law specifically prohibiting racial discrimination;
  7. Investigate all allegations of racially-motivated acts of discrimination and violence, against nationals and non-nationals alike, systematically prosecute and punish perpetrators so as to guarantee racial equality and the right of all persons to be free from racial discrimination and racist violence.
  8. Revise article 431-1 of the Penal Code to bring the definition and prohibition of discrimination contained therein in full compliance with Morocco’s international obligations under article 1 of theInternational Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD);
  9. Amend the Law on Associations to 1) remove any provision granting discretion to authorities to prevent the registration of an organisation, in line with international standards, and 2) prevent arbitrary dissolution of associations, including when these are deemed critical of the government’s policies, actions or inactions, and ensure that any such refusal is accompanied by a substantive and legally-grounded justification.
  10. Eliminate any legislative provision and discriminatory practice that violate the right to freedom of religion or belief, including the right to abandon one’s religion and convert to another. In particular, abolish the criminalisation of proselytism under article 220 of the Penal Code and repeal all blasphemy laws, notably article 267-5 of the Penal Code.
  11. Immediately cease the harassment and intimidation of Moroccan Christians, and allow them to freely perform their religious rites and beliefs in public and in churches.

Click here to download the full contribution and click here to read the summary of key findings and recommendations: English, Arabic, French.

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